Culture

21 Things Not to Say to a Trans Person 

Devon Ashby
Updated February 27, 2020 29.2k votes 2.8k voters 713.9k views 21 items

With the explosion of interest over Caitlyn Jenner, and the rise of trans celebrities like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock, transgender visibility is at an all-time high. But what happens when you encounter a transgender person? Are there questions you should never ask a transgender person? You've likely met many trans people and have never even realized it.

This list is here to help you out. There are plenty of things you should never say, words you should never use, and questions you should never ask when you're around a transgender person. Just because you don't know all the rules yet doesn't mean you're a jerk, but a little preparation goes a long way toward making sure you don't accidentally look like one in the future. The most important thing to remember is that trans people want to be treated and spoken to like anybody else — with friendliness and respect.

Below are a few questions and topics of conversation you should probably avoid when speaking to a transgender person — especially someone you just met, or haven't had the chance to get to know very well.

list ordered by
1
'What's Your Real Name?'

Their "real" name is the one they just gave you. If they once had a different one once, that's their business.

2
'Have You Had The Operation Yet?'

Most people don't enjoy being pressured to talk to you about their genitals — trans folks especially.

3
'I'm Impressed — You Look Just Like A Real Woman!'

Hey, guess what? Trans women are real women, and trans men are real men.

4
'When Did You Decide To Switch Genders?'

Trans people didn't just "decide to switch" — they were assigned the wrong gender at birth.

5
'Can I See A Picture Of You Before You Transitioned?'

"Can I see an embarrassing picture of you from middle school?" It's like that, but much worse and sometimes even traumatic.

6
'Can You Still Have Orgasms?'

Transitioning to a different gender has no effect on pleasure and arousal — plus, it's none of your business.

7
'Wow, I Actually Find You Kind Of Attractive — Great Job!'

"Most people probably think you're a disgusting freak show, but not me — I'm a good person!"

8
Using Words Like 'Tranny' And 'Shemale' (Even Jokingly)
Most trans people consider these words hurtful and offensive slurs, so please don't use them.
9
'Is It Okay To Still Call You 'She'? Sorry — It's Just Confusing!'

Probably not as confusing as being mis-gendered at birth. It may take some getting used to on your end, but think of the sacrifices the person is making just to feel comfortable in their own body.

10
'What Did Your Family Think? I Mean Really, It's Kind Of Selfish'
It's not "selfish" to be yourself, and it's not a trans person's fault if their family members didn't understand. Don't be insensitive.
11
'What Does Sex Feel Like For You?'
Probably similar to the way it feels for everybody else. Also: none of your business.
12
"Do You Take Hormones?"

Don't bring up the medical side of transitioning. A lot of trans people are sensitive about it. Do you enjoy when people ask you about your medical history, seemingly out of nowhere?

13
'Which Bathroom Do You Use?'

Unsurprisingly, trans people use the bathroom that corresponds to their stated gender identity.

14
'Wait — If I'm Attracted To You, Am I Still Straight?'

Trans people don't know what your sexual orientation is — that's up to you to figure out. They will, however, be insulted if you ask them this.

15
'Are You Sure You're Not Just Gay?'

Yes. They're 100% sure. (Unless they're gay and trans, which many people are.)

16
'How Do You Have Sex?'

This is only acceptable when the trans person you're speaking with is someone you're trying to figure out how to please in bed. Otherwise, it's none of your business.

17
'So What Surgeries Have You Had?'

Questions like this are rude and tacky, for obvious reasons.

18
'Why Don't You Try Harder? Nobody Can Even Tell You're A Man!'

Trans people have better stuff to do than "convince" you their gender is valid. Just be respectful.

19
'So, You're Transgender — That's Like Being A Drag Queen, Right?'

Drag queens are male performers who dress as female characters, and that's not the same thing as being trans.

20
'So You're A Transvestite?'

Transvestites are men who are turned on by wearing women's clothes. That's not the same thing as being transgender.

21
'Stop Trying So Hard — You Look Like A Drag Queen!'

Trans women can wear tons of makeup and do their hair up fancy if they want to. What they wear is not up to you.